I used to mistake feedback with criticism. Mainly I think because earlier in my career I received more criticism than feedback. When I would make a mistake, my manager would just point out the fact that I messed up and tell me not to do it again.
As a soldier in basic training, there was a lot of feedback given to me. Mainly it was being yelled at me by someone in a brown round hat (all the drill sergeants wear them), and though they were yelling and not exactly asking me to discuss the issue or mistake I made, the structure was basically the same.
The difference between feedback and criticism is that feedback is supposed to be constructive and provide a solution. Once I understood the difference I began to appreciate real feedback and came to the realization that “feedback is a gift”.
Everyone makes mistakes, if you’re not making mistakes I would argue that you are operating too close to your comfort zone and not trying new things.
The key to great feedback when giving it or receiving it is that you can’t become emotionally connected to the problem. Staying objective and remaining compassionate is the key. The worst thing to do would be to get overly angry or act in a way that shuts down the person you’re talking to. Besides creating a potentially hostile environment, you just lost the opportunity to give real constructive feedback.
“feedback is a gift”
A few years ago I learned a 6 step process to provide feedback that has benefited me countless times over the years. The structure was so well defined that after a while I would be able to move through this quickly and without any awkwardness or loss of rapport.
- Intention: What’s the intention of providing the feedback?
- Observation: Be very clear and describe what you observed.
- The impact: What was the impact on you, the work, the team or the individual.
- Discuss: Does the other person understand what you are saying? What is their reaction, their thoughts?
- Focus: Pinpoint solutions, obstacles or options available to correct the issue.
- Agree: The final piece is to identify clear next steps and when you will follow up.
Feedback is best given as soon as you have a free moment with the person. Waiting a week or two before providing it is a missed opportunity and delays any corrective behavior.
Hold them after the meeting for a moment, if you have to bring it up later in the day or maybe even the next but understand that as time passes, so does the opportunity to correct the path of the employee.
What other tips to providing great feedback have you found helpful?